For over a century, the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium at NYBG has served researchers around the world seeking to study and conserve plant biodiversity. Today, citizen scientists working from anywhere can support our mission by documenting natural history specimens stored within our extraordinary collection. Each month, we launch new virtual expeditions targeting different groups of plants and geographic regions. Participants use their personal computers to view images of plant specimens, consult maps and digital biodiversity archives, then decipher and record essential information about the geographic and historical origin of preserved plant collections—including the collector’s name, the date of collection, and the geographic location. All the data our participants collect is shared publicly on the NYBG Virtual Herbarium (www.nybg.org/vh), and biodiversity data aggregators including GBIF (https://www.gbif.org) and iDigBio (https://www.idigbio.org/portal/search). From there, plant scientists, ecologists, and conservation biologists use the data to describe new species, monitor environmental health, track climate change, and inform habitat conservation. Because specimens in the NYBG herbarium were made by thousands of botanists over hundreds of years, interpreting the diversity of label data you will encounter can require quite a bit of research and problem-solving along the way. To meet that challenge, our community of volunteers work together to solve challenging puzzles, share resources, and engage in lively conversation about specimens and stories they discover in the expedition forums. If you enjoy our project, and look forward to participate regularly, please email our coordinator about registering as an official NYBG Virtual Volunteer (https://www.nybg.org/about/work-with-us/volunteer/).
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